Vending machine tampering: How serious?

Some of the world's best inventions are apt to trigger rash outbursts of temper. The computer that acts up, the telephone when it plays the numbers game, and the vending machine that fails to vend, to cite a small sampling.


Some of the world's best inventions are apt to trigger rash outbursts of temper. The computer that acts up, the telephone when it plays the numbers game, and the vending machine that fails to vend, to cite a small sampling.

You can swear at the computer and hang up the telephone, but what recourse have you when the vending machine doesn't produce after inserting your nickel -- uh, quarter, that is? Your natural inclination is to kick the machine or hammer it with your fist. Which prompts more than one company to classify vending machine abuse as a punishable offense.

Specifically, the company in question published in its manual that: "Tampering with vending machines on the premises will not be tolerated; employees guilty of this violation will be subject to suspension or discharge."

Night shift Utility Worker Jeff Gordon had his 85 cents investment and not this admonition in mind when the cafeteria's vending machine failed to eject the sandwich he had paid for. Pounding the machine didn't work; neither did kicking it. Nor did attempting to overcome its stubbornness with the aid of a pair of pliers and screw driver at which point night shift supervisor Bill Stolheim happened to pass by. When Gordon vented his frustration, Stolheim instructed him to put in for a refund.

"What you're doing is in violation of the contract and subject to discipline."

"Joe Feeny put in for a refund 2-mo ago and still hasn't got it."

"He'll get it and so will you. The 85 cents isn't gonna break you."

The supervisor moved on and Gordon went back to work -- until Stolheim was out of sight. He then returned to the vending machine with screwdriver and pliers. When Stolheim caught him the second time he informed him curtly, "That's it, Gordon, you're through!"

Gordon appealed the discharge as "too severe for the offense."

Question: Do you think Gordon deserves to be fired?

Malcam's verdict: "Reduce the penalty to a 1-wk suspension," Plant Engineer Ed Malcalm instructed Stolheim. "There's no question he was in violation, but the purpose of that contract clause is more to prevent stealing than discourage the venting of frustration. Include on the suspension notice that any repetition of tampering will result in dismissal."

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Industrial Analytics
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
IIoT: Operations & IT
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me